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Posted on Wed, Mar 6, 2013 : 2:48 p.m.

$3M Baker Commons project start of comprehensive plan to redevelop Ann Arbor's public housing

By Ryan J. Stanton

The Ann Arbor Housing Commission is getting started on a comprehensive plan to redevelop all of the city's public housing properties, starting with Baker Commons.

As that plan moves ahead, the commission is pondering a fundamental change in the way it operates, fully converting the city's public housing to a project-based voucher funding model.

For now, the Downtown Development Authority on Wednesday agreed to grant $300,000 from its housing fund for the upcoming improvements to Baker Commons, a low-income public housing facility managed by the city's Housing Commission at Packard and Main.


Baker Commons as it looked in October. The total cost of redeveloping all Housing Commission properties is estimated at more than $25 million, while the reinvestment in Baker Commons is expected to be about $3 million.

Ryan J. Stanton |

The latest grant follows a $260,000 grant the DDA approved five months ago for a new steel roof and energy efficiency upgrades at the 64-unit complex catering to elderly and disabled tenants.

Jennifer Hall, the Housing Commission's director, made a case for the new grant in a written proposal to the DDA, revealing the work at Baker Commons is the start of a bigger plan.

The total cost of redeveloping all Housing Commission properties is estimated at more than $25 million, while the reinvestment in Baker Commons is expected to be about $3 million.

The goal of the redevelopment process, starting with Baker Commons, is to help the Housing Commission transition to a project-based voucher funding model, which Hall believes will provide more stable funding and access to additional sources of revenues to address repairs.

In addition to funding from the DDA, the Housing Commission is requesting $500,000 from the city of Ann Arbor for the renovations at Baker Commons. The balance of the funding would come from low-income housing tax credits, grants and loans, according to Hall's written proposal.

The initial scope of work includes driveway and sidewalk replacement and repair, energy efficient lighting for the interior and exterior, insulation and air sealing, replacing windows, adding a second entrance, replacing doors, fixing or replacing all heating and cooling units, replacing generators, replacing an elevator, upgrading common area fixtures and furniture, landscaping, additional security cameras, and upgrading fixtures, appliances, flooring and cabinetry in units.

The bigger picture

The Housing Commission's consultant conducted an assessment in recent years that showed a need for more than $14.5 million in repairs — or $40,000 per unit — over 15 years.

If federal funding remained constant, Hall said, the commission would receive about $18,000 per unit throughout the next 15 years to maintain its properties, which isn't enough.

DDA board member Joan Lowenstein called the switch to a voucher funding model a "very complicated transition" that hopefully will work out for the Housing Commission.

She said Baker Commons' tenants are regular users of downtown and reinvestment in the building will add to the vitality of downtown and ensure it does not become a blighted building.


The Ann Arbor DDA board on Wednesday voted to help fund upcoming renovations to Baker Commons.

Ryan J. Stanton |

Mayor John Hieftje said there's some great work going on at the Housing Commission, and he thinks it's been turned around in the last few years.

"You have to understand what they're up against," he said. "The challenge that we all face is how do we keep public housing in good condition with this declining revenue stream."

The city's Housing Commission is the largest provider of rent and income-restricted affordable housing units in Ann Arbor and Washtenaw County.

It manages or administers 360 public housing units in the city limits, 1,333 vouchers and 155 veteran's vouchers, 34 units of "Shelter Plus Care Vouchers" for local nonprofits, 202 units of project-based rental assistance for Cranbrook Towers, and 20 units of project-based vouchers for Pear Street Apartments for local affordable housing provider Avalon Housing.

The commission is dependent on funding from Congress to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, but that revenue source has been declining.

The year 1976 was the watermark year for HUD, with the highest funding in its existence at $86.8 billion. It has decreased since then to $41.7 billion in 2012.

Hall said that has had a negative impact on the ability to take care of properties, which continue to deteriorate. She said there has been no funding for new public housing units since 1986 and HUD estimates a nationwide loss of 10,000 to 15,000 units each year.

But there has been a movement toward voucher programs. Hall said HUD now funds several voucher programs, including the Housing Choice Voucher, which enables tenants to take a voucher subsidy to a private landlord, so that no matter where the tenant lives, the tenant pays 30 percent of his or her income on rent and the private landlord receives a rent subsidy to cover the balance.

The Housing Commission estimates it receives about $300 a month less per unit in total rent for its public housing units than private landlords serving similar tenants with vouchers.

Hall said HUD has recognized the public housing program historically has been underfunded and has proposed a new program called the Rental Assistance Demonstration to convert public housing to project-based vouchers to provide a more stable source of rental subsidy.

The Housing Commission applied to HUD and was approved to convert 282 out of 360 of its units under the RAD program, with the intention of eventually converting all of them.

Hall said the commission has selected Norstar Development as the developer, Mitchell and Mouat as the architect, Recap Real Estate Advisors as the RAD consultant and Avalon Housing as the supportive housing consultant through a request for proposal process.

DDA board member John Mouat, an architect and partner with Mitchell and Mouat, abstained from Wednesday's vote because he's working on the project.


John Hieftje

The team is in the process of analyzing all of the Housing Commission's public housing units to propose a redevelopment plan to HUD that includes a conversion of all 360 units.

City Council Member Stephen Kunselman, D-3rd Ward, has objected to the plan, suggesting it's really about privatizing public housing in Ann Arbor.

Hieftje dismissed Kunselman's remarks on Wednesday, saying "Council Member Kunselman says a lot of things and I'm not sure that he thinks them through."

Hieftje said nothing is final yet and City Council approval will be required before the transition to a voucher model happens.

"I think before we go any further on it, there's going to be more study of it, and the city attorneys are working on it," he said. "Council members and myself need to be better educated about it. There's plenty of time to look at this and make sure we do the right thing."

Hall said the commission cannot maintain its properties without either an increase in funding from HUD, an annual contribution from the city of about $500,000 a year, or converting the units to project-based vouchers and accessing private and public funding to redevelop the properties.

"We'd get additional new vouchers from HUD, we'd be able to access private capital instead of using public HUD funds, so we'd be able to access things like low-income housing tax credits, FHA loans — all different kinds of funding," Hall told the City Council when presenting the idea at a meeting back in October, portraying it as an opportunity to leverage new revenue.

Hall said some tenants could be eligible to get vouchers one or two years after the conversion, and they could take those vouches and go into the private sector and use it on private housing. She said she had a meeting with public housing tenants and many are excited about that.

Ryan J. Stanton covers government and politics for Reach him at or 734-623-2529. You also can follow him on Twitter or subscribe to's email newsletters.



Wed, Apr 24, 2013 : 8:43 p.m.

We're employed. The bills we incur are paid. We have no debts looming over us. That's all anyone needs to know.

Seasoned Cit

Fri, Mar 8, 2013 : 9:09 p.m.

Sounds like a conversion to vouchers would mean $ going to private landlords who do pay taxes. This could help fill all the empty student rentals that are opening as the new HiRise student playhouses open. Why haven't we had some articles written about the lack of taxes paid to the city by Public Housing Units?


Thu, Mar 7, 2013 : 11:30 p.m.

Our house is very drafty and hard to keep above 65. Heaing bills are very expensive. The property tax just went up, and was already ridiculous to begin with. I sure could use some money to renovate my house to be warmer and more airtight. I can't afford to do it myself.

Vivienne Armentrout

Fri, Mar 8, 2013 : 12:22 a.m.

Depending on your income, there are programs that can help. You should contact Washtenaw County. Info on the weatherization program here

Vivienne Armentrout

Thu, Mar 7, 2013 : 10:17 p.m.

My take is that public housing was never meant to be transitional housing (for people who are on their way up from some misfortune). It is meant to be low income housing. Here is the latest HUD chart for income and housing cost: "Very low income" (50% of area median income) for one person is supposed to cost no more than 30% of their income. The 50% of AMI is $29,100 and such a person should pay no more than $728 per month. But $10 an hour (still not that uncommon a pay rate) for 40 hours a week is only $20,000 a year. Thus a person working full time would not be able to afford that rent. Do we want a community where working people must be very affluent in order to live here? Public housing is the only place that low-income people may live without special qualifications other than income. (Apart from voucher-supported rentals.) Avalon does a good job in its special niche, which is supportive housing. That is not available to many low-income people who have no disabilities other than being low-income. I am very concerned that this privatization scheme will undercut the availability of affordable housing for our low-income population. I hope that it does not proceed quickly and without many, many questions asked.


Fri, Mar 8, 2013 : 3:21 p.m.

I hate to keep bringing up Jane Jacobs but she actually had a lot to say about this kind of social engineering that led to ghetto-izing poor people in projects. It was her determination that it worked better to support the working poor in places they'd choose to live if they made more money. That way, when they started making more money, they could afford to pay a larger percentage of their rent, and so on, until they either paid full rent OR bought the place with a low-interest loan. The point was to make sure it was a place good enough for them to want to stay there- rather than looking to get out as soon as they made enough money. Bill Clinton and his "Contract with America" crew largely did away with welfare lifestyling. So the stereotypical "welfare queens" have had to move on by now, even though people love to keep bringing them up as a straw man for their privatization arguments. The only ones not required to work now are the permanently disabled. I don't think anyone would argue those people should not be helped. But where do you want them being forced to live? In a run-down ghetto or in decent conditions with ready access to services they require?


Fri, Mar 8, 2013 : 12:10 a.m.

I do not have a problem with PH. I have a problem with how it is run, the waste of dollars and the ineffective social programs that are supposed to break the cycle of poverty. The PH sites in Ann Arbor have over the years had millions thrown at them in maintenance and rehab. At some point it makes no sense to continue plowing money into a pit. In addition over the years there are countless social programs that have come and gone that were supposed help the low income. Unfortunately all that has been fostered is a dependence on PH by multiple generations. Why is the cycle so ingrained in families? What social programs have worked? Have any programs worked over time? Sure seems that people have discovered they can live pretty well by not ever having to work or provide for themselves because society is always there with a free handout.


Thu, Mar 7, 2013 : 7:34 p.m.

Well finally a "project"; very funny it is always in a bad state and "need "repair or total remodel!IF the Owners or inspectors HUH/MSDA HOUSING commission ... would do they LITTLE repair in/ontime it would not be AN other project,, Under THE AMERICANRECOVERY and REINVESTMENT Act of 2009 and HUD to improvees living conditions for public housing .many PHAs find the repair and/ orrenovation of public housing units nOT ALWAYS MEET THE NEED of ITS yes we resident want carpet (that doesnot come from a zementfactory)/ no padding under neat. kitchen cupboards low euongh for us to rears, without having to stand on a stepstol(we are over 65-104 of age)a dishwasher we had one for the last 30 years in our house(we senoir have arhtirtisand cannot feel the hot water or too hot water to(also hot water takes out the germs etc etc) was dishes by hand,also we need a selfcleaing oven ,since most of us cannot breath too many fumes etc,, then there is the bathroom step in tubs.when you getold it is very bad to get out of the tub/shower .we need higher toilets also the" standard" is too low .Also when you have disablte senior/vetreasn have a UNIT that is accetibal for the DISABLT.!in in the laundryroom Have one KINGSIZE washer and DRYER .for rugs and comforters and havy drapers.The cable and internet should be included in the rent. so the cable guy oNLY COMES ONCE to conncet ..NOT every time there is a cablebill increase (so he is here 3-4 times a week)In case you need more input see me/us Ups I forgot thr communityroom and the AIR/heat conditon units make sure that they are inworking conditioin NOT shutt off for two months in the heat of summer//just because they are runnig .they donot cool JUST cost more on electrixti..and dont raise the rent till ALL contion are met (some of which we cnnot write here) thank you and make US SENIOR and VETREANS a happy HOMEER again.


Thu, Mar 7, 2013 : 3:12 p.m.

$86.8 billion in 1976 dollars would be $350 billion in todays dollars. Instead of that, it's $41.7 billion dealing with a massive increase in need for those dollars. Even if the need were no greater today than in 1976, the program would be greatly underfunded. From the following, you can see that the repairs needed would consume 61% of the total HUD allocation for public housing. "HUD released a study last year (2011) that found the nation's 1.2 million public housing units need an estimated $25.6 billion for large-scale repairs to improve basic living conditions. Locally, the Ann Arbor Housing Commission's own study found $14.5 million in deferred capital needs, which equals $40,374 per unit. But the commission is getting less than $500,000 a year from HUD to invest in capital improvements, or about $1,224 per unit. At that rate, Hall said, it would take 33 years to address today's needs, assuming no other repairs are needed in the future. "So that is definitely our biggest crisis, I would say, that we're in right now — the inability to invest in our own properties," Hall said." I don't see how vouchers are going to put a dent in that shortfall. It looks, instead, like they (the feds) would like to get out of the housing business, disperse that $41.7 billion budget to private hands (Kunselman is right about that), and disperse public housing residents out amongst the general renting populace and let them fend for themselves. That would suit Rick Perry. Pretty sure HUD was the other agency he'd have liked to do away with but couldn't remember. That scheme could work for the working poor currently on housing assistance. Pretty sure none of the kids in my school who lived in Hikone enjoyed that experience. The rest???


Thu, Mar 7, 2013 : 2:09 p.m.

@Ryan Stanton, How about some investigative reporting? Public housing sites in Ann Arbor have been virtual money pits since they were built. How much has been spent at each site? I know the records exist. At some point dumping more money into these units becomes ludicrous. Once you find out how much has been spent then you can determine the the unit cost over time. Don't forget to throw in the ongoing maintenance costs. Also, the intent of public housing is to be a stop gap and not permanent housing. In Ann Arbor public housing has become the norm for many generations of families. Statistics and data must be available regarding this. The public is entitled to know what is done with public money. This then leads to the next problem which is the ineffectiveness of programs that are funded by the general fund and other organizations for the purpose of assisting our low income residents. These programs must be able to justify themselves with some accountability that is public domain. Do some research, find out how many people are really helped, how many have gotten of the public dole and the effectiveness of the boatloads of money that have been thrown at the problem for years.


Thu, Mar 7, 2013 : 9:44 p.m.

@a2chrisp...I do disagree. Public housing was never meant to be permanent. Here in Ann Arbor it has become a safety net for generations. Why has this occurred and why does the system seem to be unable to break the cycle? It is not successful if it fosters the cycle. Also in Ann Arbor their are countless programs which have received boatloads of money to assist the residents with the many issues you state. Well, don't you think that these programs need to support data that justifies their existence? Who and how many are they are they assisting over the long haul? There needs to be some checks and balances. If there is 3 generations of a family in PH, why? How come they are still their? How come no program has been effective in helping them out of the cycle? For some the easy way and the handout has become the only way.


Thu, Mar 7, 2013 : 3:27 p.m.

It isn't accurate to state that public housing is meant to be a stop gap. It is meant to be indefinite. Perhaps permanent isn't the right word, but I assure you stop gap is far from correct. There are some families for which PH is temporary (recent immigrants, recently homeless, young mothers going to school) but for many, it is for the rest of their lives because they are mentally or physically unable to sustain long-term employment. The image of every American having limitless potential clouds the stark reality that this is far from true, and even at its most cold financial interpretation, public housing is successful simply because it keeps people who would otherwise be homeless in homes, which any study can show you is incredibly less expensive.


Thu, Mar 7, 2013 : 10:15 a.m.

I wish the housing commission would maintain the housing they have. The city housing on Platt Rd. really looks terrible! The yards are not maintained. They need paint and new siding among other things.


Thu, Mar 7, 2013 : 2:26 p.m.

They can't do them all at once.


Thu, Mar 7, 2013 : 9:02 a.m.

public housing facility public housing Projects


Thu, Mar 7, 2013 : 5:56 a.m.

Vouchers, bah phooey. If this doesn't smack of privatization of public housing, I don't know what is. That and the North Main low cost fiasco and Ann Arbor will soon be priced out of reach for all low and middle income people. Are they trying to run everyone poor out to Ypsilanti?

Jay Thomas

Thu, Mar 7, 2013 : 5:17 a.m.

I almost forgot to ask. Should people who may be receiving DDA money... REALLY BE ON the DDA? Or is just abstaining from that particular grant enough?


Thu, Mar 7, 2013 : 5:09 a.m.

So HUD funding's been cut by 45.1 billion (52%) in the past 37 years. Meanwhile, federal spending spiraled by several trillion dollars. And federal taxes on the middle class are at an all-time low. Yet - several people commenting here seem to think the opposite, giving the impression that public housing residents are riding high while doing drugs and panhandling. They seemed to have "missed" (or ignored): "... the 64-unit complex catering to elderly and disabled tenants." That's Baker Commons. Residents include wounded war veterans, at least one permanently disabled college professor, a few people in their 60s still working and paying maximum rent. All this "unfair opulence" includes having to watch fellow residents & friends carried out by HVA on stretchers after suffering fatal heart attacks and strokes. War is peace. Freedom is slavery. Ignorance is strength. – George Orwell Judging by the level of ignorance so proudly displayed by some: you're a real strong bunch.


Fri, Mar 8, 2013 : 3:27 p.m.

Caveat: $86.8 billion in 1976 dollars would be $350 billion in todays dollars.


Thu, Mar 7, 2013 : 2:21 p.m.

Nailed it.


Thu, Mar 7, 2013 : 2:56 a.m.

It is funny how the residents of OZ will scream for more tax funded benefits for the poor and people on fixed incomes, but renovate public housing in Ann Arbor, boy, you would think latte was made illegal.

Jay Thomas

Thu, Mar 7, 2013 : 5:06 a.m.

Er, Bob, it seems like the OPPOSITE of that has been occurring the whole time. Ann Arbor subsidizing Ypsi through paying more into the bus system. Ann Arbor attentive to maintaining public housing while letting the roads (and a certain bridge) deteriorate. Hiring a guy from Wayne County to be the Police Chief, when he used to dump off homeless people from that county into Ann Arbor on a regular basis. Plans to subsidize choo choo trains so that Ann Arbor workers... don't have to live here... where it is more expensive. School of choice... so that West Willow could go to school in Ypsi; Ypsi in Ann Arbor; and Ann Arbor in Saline. Merging Ann Arbor and Ypsi school buses was proposed for that reason (and not to save money) as far as I can see.

Basic Bob

Thu, Mar 7, 2013 : 3:56 a.m.

Step 1. Make public housing in OZ unaffordable. Encourage all part time workers to move east. Step 2. Reduce bus service on east-west routes to help control crime in OZ. Step 3. Erect checkpoints and moat system to eliminate crime from OZ. Step 4. Ethnic cleansing completed without violence. OZ annexes self to land of West Michigan.


Wed, Mar 6, 2013 : 11:35 p.m.

I happen to live at Baker Commons, and this might amaze most of you, but I'm also employed at one of the stores at Maple Village Shopping Center. So, would you prefer I quit my job, or continue working?


Thu, Mar 7, 2013 : 3:16 p.m.

I love how conservatives get all high and mighty about low-income families living within their means because they have cable, when the average american is thousands of dollars in debt, has a mortgage they can't afford, a car they can't afford and in all likelihood receives untold handouts from the government that they are completely unaware of. How did the average american liked hearing from the banks or the insurance companies when they were told we like it when you pay your bills. The reality is people don't like to admit it, but their views on life are skewed. They want to believe that everyone living on public assistance is sort sort of lazy drug addled creep. Anything to the contrary doesn't fit with the narrative they have formed in their head and might make it more difficult for them to reconcile that they have no idea what they are talking about.

Angry Moderate

Thu, Mar 7, 2013 : 1:53 p.m.

Of course you're not panhandling...sounds you're living the high life on taxpayer $$. Cable TV, really?


Thu, Mar 7, 2013 : 4:55 a.m.

Anette, I did not know that Comcast, AT&T, and storage were required to live. I don't have a smart phone, cable/premium channels or extra storage because they cost too much. It's called living within your means.


Thu, Mar 7, 2013 : 4:28 a.m.

@Annette: I think some critics might want to compare available jobs and pay rates between themselves and some of the seniors living in AAHC housing units. I know the national avg. wage is near $20/hour now. How many stores pay their employees that much plus benefits? How many businesses pay their help that much? How long is a 65 year old expected to keep working and earning anywhere near the national average? In my work, I've met several people living in AAHC / HUD housing - all of them work, all of them keep their homes as neat as anyone else. NONE of them are drug users or panhandlers. (AAHC screens out those people, I know that from several official sources.)


Thu, Mar 7, 2013 : 12:48 a.m.

Comcast: 96.91/month. AT&T: 32.79/month. DTE: 54.04 Storage: 89.00/month. We don't get food stamps, or any other services from DHS. In other words, we WORK. We pay our bills. We pay rent. We're not hanging out on the streets. We're not panhandling. Don't look down your nose at me/us because of our low income. Not everyone who is poor is sludge.

Angry Moderate

Wed, Mar 6, 2013 : 11:44 p.m.

We'd prefer that you pay your own bills. None of us are getting a $3 million renovation of our homes.


Wed, Mar 6, 2013 : 11:39 p.m.

I would prefer you pay your own way like I have to.

Wolf's Bane

Wed, Mar 6, 2013 : 11 p.m.

Nice PR move, DDA.

Ryan J. Stanton

Thu, Mar 7, 2013 : 4:15 a.m.

The DDA regularly doles out money from its housing fund for projects it deems worthwhile. I get the sense that the DDA is genuine in these pursuits and not looking for glory. For instance, the DDA has given a lot of money to Dawn Farm, which I wrote about in this story: Here's a list of other grants from the DDA's housing fund: 1999 - Avalon $136,500, LISC $50,000 2000 - LISC $50,000, Courthouse Square $150,000 2001 - LISC $200,000 Dawn Farm $135,000, AA Chamber of Commerce $5,000 2002 - Courthouse Square $100,000, AA Chamber of Commerce $5,000, Washtenaw Housing Alliance $22,725 2003 - Ashley Mews $75,000, Housing Coordinator $10,000 TIF Repairs & Holiday Lights 2006 - Community Needs Study $15K 2007 - Dawn Farm $45,000 2008 - Avalon $153,950, 426 S. First Street 2008 - Avalon $60,000 819 S. Third Street 2008 - Avalon $35,263 Energy Grant 520 & 522 S. Division 2009 - Avalon $90,000 201 W. William 2010 - Avalon $607K - 66 unit rehab 2010 - Homeless Shelter $20K Beds 2013 - AAHC Baker Commons Roof $246K 2013 - Village Green Affordable Housing $400K 2013 - Dawn Farm $150K 2013 - AAHC Baker Commons $300K


Wed, Mar 6, 2013 : 10:35 p.m.

1) Is there a difference between PUBLIC housing and AFFORDABLE housing? 2) This seems like a whole bunch of money going places. Is this whole commission/project/etc. maintained/staffed by the same folks involved in any way w/ the Avalon/3 Oaks fiasco on Main? 3) Is this consultant mentioned in the story on permanenet staff for Public Housing Commission? Hired recently? Did their work and is gone now, not conitnuing getting paid? 4) Is HUD part of Public Housing? Or vice versa? Is the Ann Arbor Housing Commission a state-run or federally run group/organization? Do they get part of our property taxes? Why is the DDA giving money to the Ann Arbor Housing Commission? 5) I feel lost here; can we get some kind of chart showing all the groups involved in this one story, and how they are related and funded? Or a place I can go to get that info?


Thu, Mar 7, 2013 : 12:48 p.m.

The employees are city workers. They have their own structure and board which is overseen by a board which is appointed by city council. Much like other gov't agencies though, while the employees are locally paid most of the funding for programs comes from a variety of sources.


Thu, Mar 7, 2013 : 12:10 p.m.

So the Ann Arbor Housing Commission just gets grants, not property taxes? That seems odd, as they're part of the website. Can anone tell me if the Housing COmmission staff is paid using property tax money?


Thu, Mar 7, 2013 : 4:14 a.m.

One is a type of the other, no, not permanent work completed no longer paid, vice versa, locally run, supported by a combo of grants, sort of, rising tide lifts all boats, good luck. As an aside, I worked with the housing commission for several years, it seems like they are heading in a good direction for long term health. Despite rabble rousing from readers, this will ultimately save a ton of money and potentially save a broken system and once failing organization. Congrats Jennifer.


Wed, Mar 6, 2013 : 10:35 p.m.

Swarms are forming all over the country on their way to this future public housing magnet. Please make sure they are easy to demolish and continually rebuild, have roach proof appliances, have graffiti removable siding, have built in needle waste bins, and plenty of space for panhandlers. A bridge card dispenser out front would be appreciated (and practical), too. I realize it sounds stereotypical, but a brief photo survey would educate readers and responders quite adequately.


Wed, Mar 6, 2013 : 11:22 p.m.

Often, stereotypes exist for a reason...

Dog Guy

Wed, Mar 6, 2013 : 10:30 p.m.

Baker Commons is 30 years old. My house is 80 years old and does not need redevelopment, renovation, or HUD, RAD, DDA, FHA tax money.

Angry Moderate

Thu, Mar 7, 2013 : 1:50 p.m.

We have to pay for it with our own money, but "mind our business" while you spend it? Some people are so entitled.


Thu, Mar 7, 2013 : 4:46 a.m.

Does your house also provide shelter, kitchen facilities, bathrooms, heating & lighting for 69 residents (for the past "80 years")?? How many of the 69 residents in that magical 80 year-old house of yours are handicapped or have chronic, crippling injuries or illnesses? A hard-working, industrious very smart young man once said: Mind your business. Maybe you should take his advice. :-)

Jay Thomas

Thu, Mar 7, 2013 : 4:44 a.m.

It seems like the norm with government housing (rebuilding every 20-40 years). If the low income public housing advocates ever connect with their environmentalist side and realize how "unsustainable" it really is... they might spontaneously combust.

Angry Moderate

Wed, Mar 6, 2013 : 10:12 p.m.

"She said Baker Commons' tenants are regular users of downtown and reinvestment in the building will add to the vitality of downtown and ensure it does not become a blighted building." LOL! Would she like to bet some money on that?


Wed, Mar 6, 2013 : 10:07 p.m.

Please fix our roads first.


Thu, Mar 7, 2013 : 2:15 p.m.

Another satisfied Walmart shopper.

Nicholas Urfe

Thu, Mar 7, 2013 : 12:36 p.m.

Let's spend every last dollar on roads. Because cars are the most important things. Ever.


Wed, Mar 6, 2013 : 8:48 p.m.

Projects do nothing to integrate low income residents into traditional, income diverse neighborhoods as the HUD Housing Choice Voucher program intends. Why does the City of Ann Arbor feel it must compete with property taxed landlords?

Alan Goldsmith

Wed, Mar 6, 2013 : 8:27 p.m.

"Hieftje dismissed Kunselman's remarks on Wednesday, saying "Council Member Kunselman says a lot of things and I'm not sure that he thinks them through." This is how a politician who is watching his support disappear responses to questions. The Mayor has always watched out for downtown, Burns Park, his friends, the rich and the elite contractors slowly taking over the City. Why would anyone think now he would look out for the interests of public housing users? There would be less need for government funded low income housing if the Mayor and others hadn't been asleep at the wheel in making the entire City more affordable for lower and middle income residents. His arrogance in this quote is just more of the same.

Ryan J. Stanton

Thu, Mar 7, 2013 : 3:59 a.m.

Alan, what's your prediction on the outcome of a matchup between Kunselman and Hieftje next year? Who's your money on?


Thu, Mar 7, 2013 : 12:45 a.m.

That's ridiculous, Ellis. The mayor and council have a huge amount of control over the cost of housing. Stop requiring all new developments to have "low income" components, for example. Allow a few larger buildings to be constructed, like Tower Plaza was in the late 1960s. Stop putting up road blocks to every construction project so they take 4 years instead of 2. It's not that difficult.

Ellis Sams

Wed, Mar 6, 2013 : 9:30 p.m.

The mayor and city council have no real control over the cost of housing. Housing costs in Ann Arbor are high because of demand. The market is buying Ann Arbor. It contrast, the market is selling Detroit and prices are low.


Wed, Mar 6, 2013 : 8:27 p.m.

What a great idea. Lets spend millions to support people living in one of the highest cost areas of MI. Nevermind that the people who actually work for a living pay insanely high taxes and receive little in the way of basic services like an adequate police force.


Thu, Mar 7, 2013 : 9:06 a.m.

is anyone commenting in need of public housing?


Thu, Mar 7, 2013 : 9:03 a.m.

Beverly Hills, CA has non

Jay Thomas

Thu, Mar 7, 2013 : 4:48 a.m.

I recall that there were people in Beverly Hills, CA behind some kind of affordable housing plan for that city. Seems they grew up there but couldn't really afford it anymore. Yes, the term "entitlement" does come to mind.


Thu, Mar 7, 2013 : 2:13 a.m.

done of are taxes go feed the poor but to house them in expensive places....where is the logic?


Wed, Mar 6, 2013 : 11:31 p.m.

Fact is nobody in the United States pays "insanely high taxes and receive little in the way of basic services like an adequate police force." The US is a VERY low tax country and quite frankly the police force funding is fine. Crime rates continue to fall int eh US, while you scream about needing more. It is just not factually correct.


Wed, Mar 6, 2013 : 9:01 p.m.

You're going to raise the ire of the "I want my fair share of what you make crowd". This will lead to occupy movements due to the social injustice of it all................"It's not fair..........."